Diarrhea – What is it?
Diarrhea is not a disease itself, but rather a symptom of a wide variety of diseases (Mayer, E., 2016) (Lipski, E., 2012). It is characterized by abnormally watery, loose stools and frequent bowel movements. Why it occurs is dependent on the individual and many different variables (Gracey, M., 1991). Diarrhea can either be acute or chronic. Acute diarrhea is when diarrhea lasts a short time, and if it goes away within a few days then there usually is no cause for concern. Chronic diarrhea is when it lasts up to several weeks and can be an indicator of a chronic disease that requires medical attention. On average people get diarrhea at least once a year, and it’s an indicator that your body is trying to get rid of something fast.
To determine if you have diarrhea, you are going to have to take a look at your stool. Though it may not seem like the loveliest thing to do, it is important to know what is coming out of your body as a way to determine what is wrong with your insides.
Diarrhea is usually based on stool frequency and weight. The typical weight of daily stool (as you should be having a bowel movement twice a day at least) is 100-200g daily and if your diet is rich in fibre the weight can be around 300g daily (eds. Guandalini, S., & Vaziri, H., 2011).
What Causes Diarrhea
In 2005, the World Health Organization estimated that approximately 1.8 million people died from diarrhea disease every year, with most of the cases concerning children. 70% of diarrhea cases are a result of foodborne illness (eds. Guandalini, S., & Vaziri, H., 2011).
Diarrhea can be caused by many things, therefore it is important to consult your physician, naturopathic doctor or nutritionist to find out exactly why it is occurring, especially if it is persistent. The most common cause of diarrhea is virus infections accounting for approximately 75% of cases, often as a result of consumption of contaminated food or drink (Murray, M.T., & Pizzorno, J., 2012).
When it is a viral infection, diarrhea is often accompanied by vomiting and abdominal pain (fever may also develop). The onset of illness is brought about quickly, in under 14 hours and often leaves the body after 72 hours (eds. Guandalini, S., Vaziri, H., 2011).
- Shigella – this organism can survive the acidic conditions of most individuals, particularly in children and the elderly
- Salmonella (Gastroenteritis Strains/Enteric Fever Strain)
- Yersinia Enterocolitis
- Campylobacteria jejuni – related to the consumption of improperly cooked chicken
- Nontyphoidal Salmonella – the most common cause of food poisoning
- Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia Coil – Community-acquired affects both children and adults and classified based on the pathogenic mechanisms of each particular strain. Common on cruise ships.
Mental Health and Diarrhea
Mental health can also cause diarrhea. When someone is under or suffering from severe stress, anxiety, or experiencing severe adrenal exhaustion the result can be an increase in the sensitivity of the migratory motor complex of the gastrointestinal tract resulting in tummy pains and an increase in the speed of elimination of fecal matter leading to diarrhea. Experiencing anxiety, especially when one has a compromised immune system can lead to diarrhea.
A disconnect between the gut and the brain can also result in diarrhea, this can be seen in severe forms of depression, Alzheimer’s disease or autism (Mayer, E., 2016).
Surgery and Diarrhea
Surgery can be a very invasive procedure, foreign hands touching your insides, stuff being moved around some parts of your might need to be removed. Recovery after surgery is essential, feeding it proper nutrients and supplementing to build up your immunity will all help in bringing your body back into balance.
Peptic ulcer surgery can be successful, however, it often leaves the individual who underwent the surgery with a very sensitive gut. This can lead to symptoms such as constant abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea (Mayer, E., 2016).
Diarrhea is a symptom of another Illness
- Pernicious Anemia – low B12 count
- Lactose Intolerance
- Food Allergies
- Celiac disease
- Chron’s Disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Malabsorption syndrome
- Chronic Infections
- Heavy Metal Poisoning
- Parasite infections
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome IBS
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease IBD (Seo, H., et al., 2016)
Below is a descriptive list of different kinds of diarrhea. To properly heal the body, it is important to know why you are experiencing diarrhea in the first place and what the underlying cause is. Here are a few tests that can be conducted to determine the type of diarrhea you are suffering from.
- Hydrogen Breath Test for SIBO
- Stool Analysis with parasitology
- Food allergy and sensitivity testing and an antibody test
Before getting yourself tested it is important to rule out your current diet. Partaking in a 30-day Autoimmune Paleo diet combined with supplementation can prove to be very beneficial. If that does not seem to solve the problem. Speak to your practitioner about testing (Lipski, E., 2012).
Types of Diarrhea
The classifications of diarrhea are segregated into secretory/osmotic/inflammatory/drug-related/functional and mortality related. Other ways to determine the type of diarrhea you have is by properly analyzing the frequency, stool consistency, duration and stool weight (eds. Guandalini, S., & Vaziri, H., 2011).
Acute diarrhea is the most common form. The onset of acute diarrhea is rapid, and it lasts a short time, typically 4-5 days. It can often occur as the result of a viral infection (30-40% of acute cases in developed countries will be a result of this) (Gracey, M., 1991) (ed.s Guandalini, S., & Vaziri, H., 2011), though it can also come from a contagion within your community, hospitalization or a result of travelling. Determining the result of diarrhea will aid in its treatment.
In developing countries, the most common cause of acute infections is bacterial and protozoal infections. These often arise as a result of poor sanitation, which inevitably predisposes entire communities to a bacterial and viral outbreak (ibid).
This watery, dysenteric and bulky stool (a result of malabsorption syndrome) onsets rapidly and can last for more than 14 days, some reports stating 4 weeks (Gracey, M., 1991) (eds. Guandalini, S., Vairi, H., 2011). It can be the result of post-enteritis syndrome and is the leading cause of diarrhea worldwide, particularly in Africa, India, South America and Southern Asia and annually affects 14-16% of Americans (eds. Guandalini, S., & Vairi, H., 2011).
Most of the individuals who suffer from chronic diarrhea usually also suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, It is one of IBS’s most common symptoms (Murray, M.T., & Pizzorno, J., 2012). Developing and developed countries have different causes of contracting chronic diarrhea.
Developed causes: Malabsorption Syndrome, IBS, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Chronic Infections predominate
Developing causes: Mycobacterial, Chronic Bacterial, Parasitic Infections (ibid).
Drug-Induced Diarrhea (Iatrogenic)
Diarrhea can occur as a result of surgical procedures or the usage of certain drugs. Antibiotics usage alters the bacterial flora diversity of the intestines, getting rid of both bad and good bacteria (for the most part) this can result in diarrhea. Taking medication that affects the liver or pancreas can over time lead to a depletion or a lack of secretion of bile salts – which leads to fat malabsorption and excess fat results in diarrhea.
Make sure to be aware of all the side effects of the medication that you are taking, some of the side effects may be diarrhea. In this case, it is important to stay well hydrated and speak to your doctor or practitioner about other options if it begins to be uncomfortable for you to live that way (eds. Guandalini, S., & Vaziri, H., 2011).
Dysentery consists of blood, polymorphonuclear leukocytes (a type of white blood cell) and mucoid stool. One will experience cramping of the abdomen, serious pain, rectal burning (known as tenesmus) and a fever. Bleeding and mucus are only present in 1/3 of cases and fever is only present in 1/2, as a result, it is important to get yourself checked out to make sure the underlining cause of the diarrhea is addressed (eds. Griffiths, J., et al., 2010).
Acute forms of dysentery last between 7-10 days, consisting of loose/watery stool possibly mixed with blood and mucus as well as colicky pains in the abdominal region. It is often a result of macroscopic mucosal damage, which occurs when the gastrointestinal tract is infected by a pathogenic organism that invades the body (Gracey, M., 1991). Infectious bacteria, such as Shiga bacillus or S. dysenteriae type 1 produce the most harmful forms of dysentery. Milder cases of dysentery are often caused by S. sonnei or Campylobacter jejuni (eds. Griffiths, J., et al., 2010).
This form of diarrhea is most common with children who are from the age of 2-15 and women in their childbearing years (though it is not very common amongst adults). Children who are not breastfed are also more susceptible to contracting epidemic cholera (Gracey, M., 1991).
During the “Great Stink” of 1858 in London, cholera was ramped across the cities population and the death toll from it climbed quickly. Though back then it was believed that cholera occurred from foul smells it is now understood that it occurred as many forms of diarrhea do from a bacterial infection. Cholera is caused by Vibrio cholera, a highly spreadable bacterium, and a symptom of it is diarrhea. It is also thought diarrhea that the disease is spread, making it an issue in areas with poor sanitation ( Sonnenburg, J., Sonnenburg, E., 2015).
This type of Diarrhea occurs three days after hospitalization. If it occurs earlier it could be a result of community derived diarrhea, travellers or foodborne. Hospital-acquired diarrhea may be the cause of antibiotic usage, feed tubes, nonantibiotic medication or other reasons particular to each individual.
Immunocompromised individuals are more susceptible to contracting Salmonella infections while hospitalized; the infection can be a result of contaminated food, interactions with a contaminated individual (person to person spread) or through chemotherapy (eds. Guadalini, S., & Vairi, H., 2011).
This form of diarrhea is the most common childhood illness and a leading cause of death in the developing world – mainly affecting children ages 5 or younger. Bad bacteria is the primary culprit, as with most forms of diarrhea, in particular, Salmonella (found in undercooked eggs and peanut butter) and Giardia (a parasite the spreads in contaminated waters).
Children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals often have lower colonizes of beneficial bacteria, making them more susceptible to infections – such as infectious diarrhea. These individuals also spend a great amount of time amongst other individuals in environments where contagious microbes can easily spread such as schools, long-term care facilities and hospitals (Sonnenburg, J., Sonnenburg, E., 2015).
Clostridium difficile is such an invasive, infectious pathogenic bacteria that causes life-threatening diarrhea and inflammatory issues in the gastrointestinal tract and often occurs after the taking of antibiotics, symptoms can occur immediately after finishing antibiotics or several months later. 2-5% of people carry this pathogenic bacteria, 20% of patients in hospitals have it, and approximately 50% of residents of long-term care facility as infected with it. It is hard to kill it off with antibiotics as it can quickly become antibiotic-resistant and hides in the gut in the form of spores. When it becomes rampant and result in spore overgrowth within the digestive tract it will lead to severe intestinal inflammation and very painful diarrhea. Probiotic use and a protocol for Canadia and parasites removal will aid in the elimination of the bacterium (Sonnenburg, J., Sonnenburg, E., 2015). A fecal transplant from a digestively healthy individual is also an excellent way of treating C. difficile (Mayer, E., 2016).
Inflammatory diarrhea is often the case of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth or SIBO. When there is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine – an area of the digestive tract that should have no bacteria in it except at the place where the small intestine connects to the large (and only in small amounts at that spot) – inflammation arrises, as does a drop int he migratory motor complex.
This inflammation and bacterial overgrow causes severe stress to the lining of the gut, antibody formation and release as well and can cause an imbalance to the sodium channels in the body (ex. sodium-potassium pump).
Radiation can also cause inflammatory diarrhea on account of the activation of the intestinal transforming growth factor. This can occur after chemotherapy, therefore it is important to work on maintaining and addressing good digestive health after that procedure (eds. Guandalini, S., & Vaziri, H., 2011).
Intractable Diarrhea/ Intractable Diarrhea of Infancy
A form of chronic diarrhea, it is persistent and can cause mortality (Gracey, M., 1991). It is common for young children though it can also affect individuals of old age as well. This prolonged diarrheal disorder in children, which is often hard to diagnose and manage can often be the result of carbohydrate malabsorption and food allergies (Hizarcioglu-Gulsen, H., et al., 2014).
For the adults and elderly, it has recently come to the attention of doctors that intractable diarrhea increases when mucosal mast cells (known as mastocytic enterocolitis) are present in the digestive lining. Patients in this 2016 study were treated with an antihistamine medication (Seo, H., et al., 2016).
Osmotic diarrhea is often attributed to a permeable gut, as well as malabsorption. When particles of food bypass the digestive lining and enter the body they get flagged as antigens (foreign substances that induce an immune reaction) and stimulate the immune system to respond. The response is usually inflammatory.
A lack of enzymes can also cause osmotic diarrhea. Malabsorption-induced diarrhea is a result of insufficient enzymes available to break down the food that arrives in the digestive tract. This often occurs after the consumption of a protein/fat dense meal, particularly one rich in animal products. If the enzymes are not available, the protein or fat cannot be broken down and absorbed. This can result in different types of distress in the digestive system. Most readily it can result in malabsorption of nutrients, and in the long term, it can lead to SIBO and other digestive issues.
Because the nutrients in the food were not able to be absorbed, as it moves through the digestive tract it ferments (not in a good way), releases gas, and feeds bad bacteria. This combination will lead to osmotic diarrhea and foul flatulence (eds. Guandalini, S., Vaziri, H., 2011).
Excess intake of certain supplements or over the counter medications can also result in osmotic diarrhea. Laxatives that have a high amount of magnesium, phosphate or sulphur and excessive consumption of antacids can result in this form of diarrhea. Excessive supplementation of Vitamin C and Magnesium can also result in osmotic diarrhea (Murray, M.t., & Pizzorno, J., 2012).
Rotavirus is one of the most common causes of diarrhea amongst infants and children, most infections occurring in early infancy (3 months +). Neonatal infections have been shown to protect against diarrhea in subsequent infections, possibly providing an immunogen and knowledge for the immune system to be better able to handle subsequent infections (Wilson, C.B., et al., 2011).
Rotavirus attaches itself to the lining of the gut (the epithelial surface), enters the cells of the gut wall and begins to replicate (this infection is very common amongst individuals, particularly neonatal, with gastrointestinal issues (Wilson, C.B., et al., 2011)). Within 18-36 hours it has multiplied and begun t wreak havoc on the digestive system of its host, creating toxins such as “Non-structural protein 4” which results in diarrhea. Rotavirus diarrhea usually lasts for around 2 weeks and then it flushes out of the body (eds. Pollards, A.J., et al., 2006).
This form of diarrhea is associated with individuals of a young age, between 6-24 months. It associated with severe dehydration and hospitalization (Gracey, M., 1991). It is especially problematic in developing nations, accounting for approximately 800,000+ deaths in children (Murray, M.T., & Pizzorno, J., 2012). Though it may be a milder form of diarrhea for most children, if left unattended it can cause serious problems, dehydration being the main issue (ed.s Pollards, A.J., et al., 2006).
This form of diarrhea is dependant on where the traveller is coming or going to and if these areas are of a high or low health risk (Gracey, M., 1991). Every year, 40-60% of American obtain Travellers Diarrhea from Travelling to Mexico. The Lowest rates are found when individuals travel to USA, Canada, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Western Europe. In recent years there have also been improvements in China, Russia, Eastern Europe and South Africa (eds. Guadalini, S., & Vairi, H., 2001).
The most common cause of traveller’s diarrhea is E. coli contamination in food or water, with norovirus being responsible for 15% of cases. How do you know if you have Traveller’s Diarrhea? You will be passing 3 or more unformed stools in 24 hours and it will be followed one or more of the following symptoms;
- you may begin to pass a large amount of gas
- tenesmus – feeling like you can’t empty your bowels
- extreme nausea
- a high temperature
- blood or mucus in the stool
Two forms of diarrhea that can be contracted; 1) Acute gastroenteritis – which is associated with vomiting and watery diarrhea, 2) Persistent Diarrhea – this form of travellers diarrhea will lead to the result of IBS formation for the individual.
(eds. Guadalini, S., & Vairi, H., 2001).
Why Do People Develop Travellers Diarrhea?
Poor bacterial integrity, diversity and metabolic complexity leading individuals to be predisposed to bacterial and viral infection. Furthermore, low stomach acid levels, a lack of bile and poor liver health can all add up to issues of infection and predispose individuals to travellers diarrhea, especially if they are also consuming large amounts of alcohol.
Supplementing with Saccharomyces boulardi, Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum can be an effective and safe remedy against Traveller’s diarrhea. It is beneficial to take these probiotics before leaving to the destination and during one’s stay at the destination as a preventative measure (McFarland, L.V., 2007).
Diarrhea after every meal
Do you have issues with your liver or gallbladder? Perhaps you have had your gallbladder removed? I remember when I used to work at a health food store, a woman came in one day asking about what most people do ‘weight loss’. I to this day give the same recommendation, focus on repairing your digestive system first and move from there. When I asked her how often she went she said 4-5 times a day. Her abdomen was severely bloated (most of us mistake a distended and bloated abdomen for fat, though there may be some fat there, is a result of inflammation). She had also recently gotten her gallbladder removed.
A healthy balanced diet should include healthy and clean carbohydrates, protein and fats. However, it will not matter if you are consuming avocado or coconut oil or trans fats and hydrogenated oils, if you don’t have a gallbladder, or if it is not working properly you will experience diarrhea. If all your meals include fat in some form or shape, you will often experience diarrhea right after.
Your gallbladder is a storage container for bile, which is manufactured by the liver. It is comprised of bile salts, cholesterol and lecithin. It is responsible for emulsifying fats and making them more water-soluble so that they can properly be broken down in the digestive tract and their nutrients absorbed (fat-soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, E and K). Bile also releases immunoglobulins into the digestive system aiding in the protection of the mucosal lining. This is a very intricate system and there are many ways that it can go wrong.
- Gallbladder Removal: If the gallbladder is removed the liver will still produce bile, however, the bile will not be stored, instead it will be released in a steady constant stream. The gallbladder has a signal to tell it when food is coming along and when that food is dense in fat so that it can release more bile. The liver will release the same amount of bile for a low-fat meal and a high-fat one. This results in an individual experiencing diarrhea after consuming fat.
- The Liver is the producer of bile, however, it is not its only role in the body. When the liver becomes overburdened usually do to have a heavy toxic load it can leave it sluggish and it may not be able to produce as much bile or the bile it does produce is of a poor quality (medication can also change the consistency and potency of bile, such as cholesterol-lowering medication). If the gallbladder is not present this can be a serious digestive issue. If the gallbladder is present the issue of diarrhea may not occur immediately, however as the gallbladders bile stores deplete, fat will be left undigested and diarrhea will result.
- Faulty Gallbladder: If the gallbladder is not working accordingly this can also lead to undigested fat and inevitably diarrhea. This can often be a result of gallstones, which block the duct for bile release. Stones can occur for a variety of reasons, one is that the bile within the gallbladder becomes too heavily concentrated.
How to Prevent Diarrhea after every Meal
Supplementing with bile salts and enzymes is essential is you no longer have a gallbladder. It can become overwhelming to have to take pills with every meal, however, there are supplements on the market (I will list a few below that I have found beneficial) that are all in one. When you are in the process of healing the gut or experiencing diarrhea it is also a good thing to supplement with bile salts and enzymes to make sure that your food is being properly broken down.
Trophic – Trophic Digest Aid
- Clean facility, the product is free of most common allergens
- Contains bile salts, lipase, bromelain, trypsin
- Contains bile salts and enzymes that aid in fat digestion, carbohydrate and protein as well
- The chamomile and goldenseal aid in soothing and healing the digestive lining
- The charcoal binds to toxins and aids in their elimination from the body
Enzymedica – Lypo Gold
- Contains lipase to aid in fat breakdown as well as enzymes to assist in the digestion of carbohydrates and protein
- Free of Common Allergens
- To get more benefits over just aiding in fat absorption, you can try Enzymedica’s Digestive Spectrum. It will also aid in fat breakdown as well as providing benefits for the breakdown of dairy and sugars.
Enzymedica – Kids Digest (Chewables)
- Free of soy and artificial flavours and colours
- Contains lipase to break down fat as well as the beneficial enzymes to make sure that carbohydrates and protein are also well digested.
- This chewable form is easy for children to take
Enzymedica – Digestive Gold and Probiotics
- This supplement also contains 500 million probiotic counts from a combined total of 8 different strains. It would be best to supplement with probiotics on top of this, however, if you only want to take one supplement with your meal this should be the one.
- Contains lipase to digest fat as well as other enzymes to digest carbs and protein and enzymes to digest sugars and dairy.
Now – Super Enzymes
- Contains HCl – if you have been taking antacids for a long time, experience heartburn or have low stomach acid this will be very beneficial for your digestion)
- Bile is present to aid in the breakdown of fat, enzymes as also included to break down fat, carbohydrates and protein
- Plant-based enzymes from papaya and pineapple
- Optimizes nutrient availability
- When healing the gut or on a cleanse this is a great product to take as it supports the body and allows it to focus on healing as well as toxin and bacterial removal
- 1 tablet with meals
Douglas Labourtatoes – Bilex
- Contains bile and enzymes to assist in fat, carbohydrate and protein breakdown and digestion
- Free from most common allergens
- 3 tablets at mealtime
- Pharmaceutical grade health supplements
Diarrhea in Pregnancy
When you are in your first trimester you will begin to experience changes in your body, your bowels and their movement are no exception. Each individual’s experience will be different, some women will experience constipation, while others faster transit time. If you begin to pass more than three bowel movements a day of watery stool (which may or may not also include, blood and mucus) you must seek prompt medical attention (Murkoff, H., Eisenberg, A., & Hathaway, S., 2002).
Infant, Toddler and Children’s Diarrhea
Sometimes it is inevitable and you may need to give your child antibiotics. Breastfed and vaginally birthed children have an advantage as they have colonies of beneficial bacteria in their gut, some of which will not be stripped by the antibiotics making it easier for their digestive tract to be recognized by beneficial bacteria after the antibiotic treatment is finished (they should not receive probiotic supplementation, as it is still going to be necessary). This is not to say that a child is without hope if they were fed formula or were delivered via C-section. Probiotics can be administered from infancy.
Just as with adults, antibiotic usage often results in the onset of diarrhea, To mitigate this supplement with probiotics. There are formulas on the market that contain beneficial strains of pre and probiotics (The probiotic strain Bifidobacterium is very beneficial in the treatment of diarrhea). Supplementing a child with probiotic after they have taken antibiotics can aid in preventing pathogen-induced diarrhea which is a common occurrence after antibiotic usage (Sonnenburg, J., & Sonnenburg, E., 2015).
Diarrhea in children can be very strenuous on their system and they are highly prone to dehydration so make sure that they stay well hydrated and that they have their electrolytes replenished. This can be done via a powdered supplement or a fun way through freezes.
How to Stop Diarrhea
There are a few steps that you can take on to aid in getting rid of and preventing diarrhea from occurring.
- Dietary Changes
- Probiotics/Prebiotics/Digestive Enzymes
- Overgrowth of bacteria/candida/bacterial protozoa – most people will have diarrhea solved at this point
- IBS can be a cause of many types of diarrhea, particularly chronic. Hyperthyroidism and the side effects of medication, as well as certain tumours, can harm the digestive system and result in diarrhea.
Dietary Changes for Diarrhea
Below is a list of dietary changes that you can implement to lessen the effects of diarrhea and in some cases aid in its elimination especially if it is persistent. The food we ingest is often the culprit of diarrhea. It is not to say that the food is contaminated, sometimes it is as simple as the food that we consume is “intolerant” to us. This causes an inflammatory response in the body, sometimes stimulating diarrhea.
Common food that causes problems is dairy. After the age of seven, the body drastically declines in its production of lactase, the enzyme that is required to digest the milk sugar lactose. Some individuals are more tolerant to the consumption of dairy product than others, to make sure that dairy is not the cause of your diarrhea, take it out of your diet for a week or try the 30-day Autoimmune Paleo Diet. This means no ice cream, yogurt, milk, butter or cheese, etc. Slowly incorporate it back into your diet and see how you feel.
Some individuals may say that yogurt is a beneficial food to consume to get rid of diarrhea, however, if it is not properly fermented and is made from pasteurized milk the quality and strength of the beneficial probiotic strains will simply not be present. Unless you make your yogurt or kefir at home it is best to look towards other fermented food and probiotic supplements to restore healthy gut function and eliminate diarrhea (Pratt, S., & Matthews, K., 2004).
Probiotics and Prebiotics
Making sure your large intestine is filled with a large diversity of good bacteria is essential for health. Supplementing with probiotics with every meal will help in bringing balance to the GI tract, as will fermented foods.
If you’re not ready to find out which foods cause you trouble, or perhaps you would like to indulge in some ice cream or chocolate cake, supplementing with digestive enzymes after a meal is a great way to make sure that your food gets broken down properly, assimilated and won’t cause you to experience discomfort in your bowels.
Candida and Parasite Overgrowth
Cleaning up candida and parasite from within your body will take time, but it can also result in many of your bodily imbalances being resolved. Combining a Canadiaor parasite cleanse with an Autoimmune Paleo Diet is a great way to flush your system. Make sure to work with a health practitioner who specializes in ridding the body of these culprits as if not done properly it can cause negative repercussions.
Addressing digestive complaints, such as inflammation, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, hyper and hypothyroidism, etc. imperative in eliminating issues of diarrhea, especially as many of these issues are the underlining cause of diarrhea. To eliminate diarrhea, it is important to understand why it is occurring in the first place.
What to eat when You Have Diarrhea
30-day Autoimmune Paleo Diet
- This diet is a Reintroduction diet – you slowly introduce foods one at a time, for a few days, to see their effect on the body – if you do not have any issues arise the food is good. If the food you consume causes you issues it is your problem food.
- This restrictive diet can help your Gastrointestinal tract get back on the right track.
- It is free of gluten, grains, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts, seeds, nightshade vegetables, processed foods, excess carbohydrates and sugar – you need to be fully committed to this diet
- Though some may recommend the Master Cleanse as a way to get rid of diarrhea, especially if it is caused by a pathogen in the gut, most Master Cleanse guides dictate that if you begin to experience diarrhea before or during the cleanse it is best to stop the cleanse until the diarrhea episode has ended. I would not personally recommend this diet if you are experiencing diarrhea.
- A mixture of lemon juice/maple syrup/water/ cayenne pepper with the addition of a herbal laxative tincture and saltwater to drink.
- A diet of chicken or bone broth
- Bone broth is very healing and aids in boosting the immune system and healing the lining of the digestive tract.
- If you find broth is too little to sustain you, incorporating it into the Autoimmune Paleo diet of the BRAT diet is very beneficial.
- Banana, Rice, Applesauce, Gluten-free toast (rice flour) or Spelt Toast.
- Consuming this simple diet along with a large amount of liquid – primarily water and herbal teas (like meadowsweet) should be done at the beginning of a phase of diarrhea.
- This combination of food is easy on the bowels, aiding to slow down the rhythmic contractions of the GI tract (Murray, M.T., & Pizzorno, J., 2012).
A cancer chemotherapy drug that has the side effect of causing vomiting and diarrhea (Mayer, E., 2016). It is very depletive of nutrients, however, it is fine to take it in combination with antioxidants to boost up the immune system and prevent possible bacterial infections from occurring (eds. .Gaby, A.R., et al., 2006).
Also known as bismuth subsalicylate, it has a mild microbial, anti-inflammatory action on the digestive system. It should not be given to children under the age of three, or to individuals who are allergic to salicylates. As a side effect, it may result in tinnitus or blackening of the stool (Diemert, D.J., 2006). It cannot be used alongside Meadowsweet as there are adverse interactions (Gaby, A.R., et al., 2006).
A drug that treats diarrhea (available as a prescription). Apart from alcohol counteractions, it does not appear to have negative effects on the body (eds. Gaby, A.R., et al., 2006).
Home Remedies for Diarrhea
Diarrhea causes excess fluid loss from the body, as a result, it is important to stay well hydrated and replace lost electrolytes. These include potassium, sodium, and chloride. This can be done with an electrolyte drink or powder, however, it can also be done through food. The BRAT diet includes potassium and the makes sure that sodium and chloride are included you can always sprinkle some natural sea salt (such as Celtic Sea salt) into your water.
Consuming herbal teas, such as Meadowsweet, Chamomile or even Dandelion root tea, can aid in healing and stimulating the digestive tract and help get it on the path of healing.
Making Carob hot chocolate, with a bit of unpasteurized honey will help bring in some much-needed fibre into your diet and slow down the rate of your bowel movements and aid in giving them more shape. Combine 1-2 tbsp of carob with honey and hot water (do not add dairy).
Herbal Remedies for Diarrhea
Herbal remedies are a great way to help in controlling the process of diarrhea and soothe the digestive system.
A wonderful herb that can safely be taken for all forms of diarrhea, with milk digestive astringent actions of Meadowsweet. For children, taking equal parts of Meadowsweet with Lady’s Mantle is very beneficial, sweetened with a little bit of unpasteurized honey. Meadowsweet should be taken throughout the day (Hoffman, D., 1990).
Meadowsweet 1 Tsp
Lady’s Mantle 1 Tsp
A cup boiling water & 1-2 tsp of unpasteurized honey.
The aerial parts of meadowsweet posses, anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, stomachic, antacid, anti-emetic and astringent properties. It is one of the greatest digestive remedies, soothing and protective of the digestive lining, mucous membrane, aiding in preventing heartburn and treating diarrhea (Hoffman, D., 1990).
When preparing use dried aerial parts of the meadowsweet, 1-2 tsp. Pour boiling water over it and let it steep for 10-15 minutes.
Herbal berberine sulphate complex supports secretion of bile and acid in the elimination of yeast and pathogenic microbes. Currently, the predominant clinical use of berberine includes bacterial diarrhea, intestinal parasite infection.
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Amanda Filipowicz is a certified nutritional practitioner (CNP) with a bachelor in environmental studies (BES) from York University. She also has certification in clinical detoxification, prenatal and postnatal care as well as nutrition for mental health. She has been working as a nutritionist since 2013 and is a lifelong proponent of eating healthy.